Digital Main Street (DMS) Future Proof Program Helps 1,700+ Businesses Go Digital to Survive Shutdowns and Thrive Post-Pandemic

Posted in News, Press Releases
Jun 11, 2021

Invest Ottawa, Digital Main Street, FeDev Canada, and Launch Lab logos

Invest Ottawa and Regional Partners Help Main Street Business in Canada’s Capital and Southeastern Ontario Combat COVID-19

Ottawa, June 11, 2021 – As Ontario moves into the first phase of its reopening plan, many small businesses in Canada’s Capital are building back better with a program the helped them get online and get selling to help them survive multiple shutdowns over the past year.

Thanks to a $42.5 million investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) in the Digital Main Street (DMS) platform, small- and medium-sized enterprises across the province received critical support to build an online business and generate new revenue as quickly as possible during the pandemic.

Since July 2020, Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, together with Launch Lab, have been privileged to deliver the DMS Future Proof Program in Ottawa and Southeastern Ontario, and:

  • Support more than 1,700 businesses spanning hospitality, retail, trades, and services; and
  • Hire more than 300 students and new graduates to help deliver the DMS Future Proof Program in this region.

Invest Ottawa extends sincere thanks to all DMS Future Proof champions, ambassadors and regional partners that helped small business owners from every walk of life put this program to work in the face of COVID-19.  This includes the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA) and associated BIAs.

As DMS Future Proof wraps up as scheduled on June 30, 2021, Invest Ottawa is launching a new campaign on June 14th to get people back to their favourite local businesses as they reopen their doors.  Invest Ottawa will continue to support main street businesses as they always have through their Small Business Programs and Services, including mentorship, advisory and consulting services, peer groups, education and events.



“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, a source of local jobs – and local pride. With Government of Canada support, thousands of entrepreneurs across Ontario have adopted and expanded their digital presence and more than 1,400 students have been provided jobs since the launch of this program in June 2020. We are so proud to see the incredible impact our DMS partner organizations are having on small businesses in the region, setting them up for success in the future digital economy.”

-The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


“We are honoured to collaborate with FedDev Ontario and partners across our region to help future-proof our main street business and economy. The DMS Future Proof Program has helped more than 1,700 local firms digitally transform their business, maintain jobs and revenue in any economic storm. It has equipped business owners from every walk of life with new digital business models and strategies to drive growth. This will help propel our economic recovery.”

-Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards


“I own several businesses in the Ottawa Area, including two Global Pet Food stores and a Freshii. My businesses are in two of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. Thanks to the DMS Future Proof Program, we had the opportunity to leverage digital marketing professionals, technologies, and support to drive online sales. We closed our year in our pet food stores with a 20 percent year-over-year increase over previous years. After being open for a decade, that is unheard of. I attribute this greatly to the support of the DMS Future Proof Program.”

-Karla Briones, Serial Entrepreneur, Business Owner, and 2018 Immigrant Award Winner, City of Ottawa


“I was not expecting such an in-depth review. All aspects that were covered have been a very welcome change and will definitely help me to meet the new digital side of today’s business requirements. I cannot thank you enough for ALL the help and tutelage that was given.”

– Paul Castonguay, Paul’s Bistro (Kemptville)


“The team was great to work with – they not only provided me with useful content, but also with the knowledge and skill development I needed to improve my digital business marketing efforts going forward, which is especially beneficial these days when it’s more important than ever to stand out online. I’m grateful for their efforts and so glad I signed up for the Future Proof program!”

– Dana Deathe, The Book Lady (Fenelon Falls)


“The DMS Future Proof team was better than I could have expected. I didn’t even realize all of the work that goes into digital marketing. Having someone focusing on such specific areas of the business was hugely educational and has left me with the resources I need to succeed.”

-Owais Khan, Founder, Ottawa Samosa


“Being a small business, it was very difficult to cope with the pandemic and know what strategy to take. The DMS Future Proof came at just the right time. It provided us with expert advice, support and education that is paramount to business success. Izere Coffee is now in a position to expand its activities and products and grow our business online.”

-Deborah Ntawigirira, Founder and CEO, Izere Coffee (Ottawa)


“Having a team of experts support me, answering every question I had, really supplemented my existing knowledge. The team created a strategy specifically for my unique business model that worked with my approach and experience.”

-Jessica Oliver, Owner, MUST Boutique (Ottawa)


“The information I got from this program holds SO much value. From graphic design to the mood board and customer personas created. These were things I knew I needed, but never got around to. I’m forever grateful for all of your help!”

– Holly Patenaude, Dental Hygiene on Location (Prescott)


“Our team is grateful for having access to the Digital Squad. They helped us revamp our website, which has allowed us to capture more useful metrics while improving our guest experience. They taught us the intricacies of SEO and the importance of having a consistent tone across our website.”

– Storm Patterson, Kingston Axe Throwing


“It was an honour to have worked with the transformation team. Anyone can get online traffic, but the resources I gained from the Future Proof Program will help us retain that attention.”

-Jon Ruby, Co-Founder, Carlington Booch (Ottawa)


About the DMS Future Proof Program

Building on Toronto’s foundational investments into Digital Main Street, including ShopHERE, the DMS Future Proof Program equipped Ontario businesses with new digital capabilities, expertise, and support. It helped main street companies navigate the COVID-19 crisis by enabling them to leverage digital marketing teams and technologies, develop e-commerce and online strategies, and establish new business models to access broader domestic and global markets, customers, and revenue.

Employing digital marketing students and experts, this program helped facilitate the digital transformation and ongoing operation of main street companies in hospitality, retail, trades, and services.  In Ottawa and SouthEastern Ontario, the program served small business owners from every walk of life in Canada’s Capital, the St. Lawrence Seaway (including Brockville, Cornwall, and surrounding areas), Kingston Region (including Belleville and Napanee) and Peterborough County. For additional information, please visit:


About Invest Ottawa

Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative, inclusive, and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life. Invest Ottawa is also the founder and manager of the Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration. Since 2012, Invest Ottawa has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and companies; helped firms attract more than $666 million in capital; contributed to the creation of more than 9,714 jobs; and attracted $862 million in domestic and foreign investment. For additional information, please visit:


About Launch Lab

Launch Lab is a Regional Innovation Centre, a provincially funded network of resources for entrepreneurs. As a RIC, Launch Lab’s regional boundaries consist of most of southeastern Ontario (Trenton, down to Picton, over to Cornwall, and back up and around through Smiths Falls and Bancroft). Launch Lab’s head office is in Kingston and has a team of Entrepreneurs In Residence (EIRs) that operate throughout the region. Launch Lab’s purpose is to foster entrepreneurship and the commercialization of innovations to help build globally competitive companies in Eastern Ontario.  For additional information, please visit:


About FedDev Ontario

For nearly 12 years, FedDev Ontario has actively worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in Southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region.



Media Contact

Sonya Shorey

Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Communications

Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards


[email protected]

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